American Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street

Princeton University Press
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"There is real hope for a culture that makes it as easy to buy a book as it does a pack of cigarettes."—a civic leader quoted in a New American Library ad (1951)

American Pulp tells the story of the midcentury golden age of pulp paperbacks and how they brought modernism to Main Street, democratized literature and ideas, spurred social mobility, and helped readers fashion new identities. Drawing on extensive original research, Paula Rabinowitz unearths the far-reaching political, social, and aesthetic impact of the pulps between the late 1930s and early 1960s.

Published in vast numbers of titles, available everywhere, and sometimes selling in the millions, pulps were throwaway objects accessible to anyone with a quarter. Conventionally associated with romance, crime, and science fiction, the pulps in fact came in every genre and subject. American Pulp tells how these books ingeniously repackaged highbrow fiction and nonfiction for a mass audience, drawing in readers of every kind with promises of entertainment, enlightenment, and titillation. Focusing on important episodes in pulp history, Rabinowitz looks at the wide-ranging effects of free paperbacks distributed to World War II servicemen and women; how pulps prompted important censorship and First Amendment cases; how some gay women read pulp lesbian novels as how-to-dress manuals; the unlikely appearance in pulp science fiction of early representations of the Holocaust; how writers and artists appropriated pulp as a literary and visual style; and much more. Examining their often-lurid packaging as well as their content, American Pulp is richly illustrated with reproductions of dozens of pulp paperback covers, many in color.

A fascinating cultural history, American Pulp will change the way we look at these ephemeral yet enduringly intriguing books.

Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.

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About the author

Paula Rabinowitz is professor emerita of English at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of Black & White & Noir: America's Pulp Modernism.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Oct 19, 2014
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Pages
408
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ISBN
9781400865291
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / 20th Century
Literary Criticism / American / General
Literary Criticism / Books & Reading
Literary Criticism / Comics & Graphic Novels
Literary Criticism / General
Social Science / Popular Culture
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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With a foreword from Christopher Sabat and Sean Schemmel, Dragon Soul: 30 Years of Dragon Ball Fandom is a grand celebration of the world's greatest anime and manga and it's momentous 30th Anniversary.

Join me on a global adventure in search of the 7 dragon balls, as we head west toward Japan, the birthplace of Dragon Ball. Along the way we'll meet 81 fans from 25 countries who will share their Dragon Ball story. From artists to authors, collectors to philosophers, we'll hear their Dragon Soul and discover how Dragon Ball changed their lives. Includes over 100 images.

We'll meet such famous fans as Lawrence Simpson (MasakoX) from Team Four Star, Malik from Dragon Ball New Age, Salagir from Dragon Ball Multiverse, MMA fighter Marcus Brimage, YouTube celebrities SSJGoshin4, Nelson Junior (Casa do Kame), and film critic Chris Stuckmann, famous cosplayers "Living Ichigo," Atara Collis, and Jah'lon Escudero, the creators of Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope, Twitter star @Goku, authors Patrick Galbraith, Nestor Rubio, and Vicente Ramirez, and dozens more.

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A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origin of Wonder Woman, one of the world’s most iconic superheroes, hides within it a fascinating family story—and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism

Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore has uncovered an astonishing trove of documents, including the never-before-seen private papers of William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator. Beginning in his undergraduate years at Harvard, Marston was influenced by early suffragists and feminists, starting with Emmeline Pankhurst, who was banned from speaking on campus in 1911, when Marston was a freshman. In the 1920s, Marston and his wife, Sadie Elizabeth Holloway, brought into their home Olive Byrne, the niece of Margaret Sanger, one of the most influential feminists of the twentieth century. The Marston family story is a tale of drama, intrigue, and irony. In the 1930s, Marston and Byrne wrote a regular column for Family Circle celebrating conventional family life, even as they themselves pursued lives of extraordinary nonconformity. Marston, internationally known as an expert on truth—he invented the lie detector test—lived a life of secrets, only to spill them on the pages of Wonder Woman.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman is a tour de force of intellectual and cultural history. Wonder Woman, Lepore argues, is the missing link in the history of the struggle for women’s rights—a chain of events that begins with the women’s suffrage campaigns of the early 1900s and ends with the troubled place of feminism a century later.
 
This edition includes a new afterword with fresh revelations based on never before seen letters and photographs from the Marston family’s papers.

With 161 illustrations and 16 pages in full color

This critical, historical, and theoretical study looks at a little-known group of novels written during the 1930s by women who were literary radicals. Arguing that class consciousness was figured through metaphors of gender, Paula Rabinowitz challenges the conventional wisdom that feminism as a discourse disappeared during the decade. She focuses on the ways in which sexuality and maternity reconstruct the "classic" proletarian novel to speak about both the working-class woman and the radical female intellectual.

Two well-known novels bracket this study: Agnes Smedley's Daughters of Earth (1929) and Mary McCarthy's The Company She Keeps (1942). In all, Rabinowitz surveys more than forty novels of the period, many largely forgotten. Discussing these novels in the contexts of literary radicalism and of women's literary tradition, she reads them as both cultural history and cultural theory. Through a consideration of the novels as a genre, Rabinowitz is able to theorize about the interrelationship of class and gender in American culture.

Rabinowitz shows that these novels, generally dismissed as marginal by scholars of the literary and political cultures of the 1930s, are in fact integral to the study of American fiction produced during the decade. Relying on recent feminist scholarship, she reformulates the history of literary radicalism to demonstrate the significance of these women writers and to provide a deeper understanding of their work for twentieth-century American cultural studies in general.

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